Has already been with the Pope: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer © Osservatore Romano (KNA)
A year ago, swansongs were written about her. Now Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is making a career as CDU Secretary General. What makes the Catholic and still head of the Saarland government the CDU's beacon of hope??
It was the “school train” that was supposed to stop “AKK”. In the spring of 2017, that was, the SPD had only shortly before Martin Schulz with 100 percent elected as chairman. The state election in Saarland – the first ballot in the 2017 super-election year – was expected to knock Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) off her throne. And it didn't look good for the Christian Democrat – but on election night she emerged as the clear winner. The school train came to a standstill.
The fact that the CDU then remained the strongest force in the federal election despite losses is attributed by many Christian Democrats in part to the turnaround after the Saar election. That's how the head of government of the smallest state in the Merkel era came to be the bearer of hope for the Christian Union in the fall of the Merkel era.
Now, according to media reports, the Merkel confidante is to succeed Peter Tauber as CDU secretary general. A mammoth task: For the CDU is currently wrestling with its course between conservative and progressive and its stance on the AfD. Prominent politicians call for a new basic program.
Germany's first female interior minister
Kramp-Karrenbauer knows her way around coalitions of different colors. The 55-year-old Catholic, known by her distinctive initials “AKK,” has held numerous ministerial posts. The on 9. Born in August 1962 and raised in Puttlingen, Kramp-Karrenbauer was already active in local politics while studying law and political science. Jovial state father Peter Muller appointed her Germany's first interior minister in 2000. Later she became minister of education, then minister of labor and social affairs.
Then, in 2011, rose to become the first female head of government in Saarland, where she has since won two state elections. From her predecessor, Kramp-Karrenbauer had inherited the Jamaica coalition with the Greens and Liberals. But as this visibly faltered, she set her sights on new elections in 2012. AKK won, forged a grand coalition with the SPD without further ado and has led it comparatively quietly ever since.
Now “AKK” is to move to Berlin as CDU secretary general. Should Chancellor Merkel want to build her up as her successor, not much would change from the first overall impression: “AKK” is similar to Merkel in that she is a pragmatically acting, down-to-earth and unpretentious politician. As a candidate for chancellor, “AKK” would probably feel committed to the legacy of her predecessor and confidante.
But she would certainly not be a mere Merkel repeat. Kramp-Karrenbauer differs from the Protestant pastor's daughter in many ways. The mother of three, who married mining engineer Helmut Karrenbauer at 22, is Catholic, a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) and appeals much more strongly than Merkel to the value-conservative soul of her party.
Against marriage for same-sex couples
“AKK” has spoken out against the opening of marriage to same-sex couples and opposed a decision by the Saarbrucken district court to have crosses removed from courtrooms. The Christian symbol is, after all, “an admonition to humility” and a reminder that “people are not the last word in wisdom.
In the SPD, Kramp-Karrenbauer gained respect by advocating the nationwide minimum wage and a more aggressive labor market policy at an early stage. The fact that she has a sense of humor and can be self-deprecating could benefit her in the hectic Berlin political circus. She is a passionate carnival performer and regularly takes to the stage as Gretel, the cleaning lady of the Saarland parliament. Gretel had already hinted at ambitions for higher things three years ago: "Jo, gudd, always just cleaning Saarbrigge is jo aach langweilich."